Valentino strongly succeeds in its casting. Rudolf Nureyev is really perfectly cast as Rudolph. What he lacks in subtleties of acting he makes up in beautiful and nuanced movement - the naked sheik scenes are so beautifully orchestrated, a shifting tableau of beauty that hammers home the (well deserved) sex-symbol message in the most in-your-face but chaste way. Then there's all of the women - Leslie Caron, Michelle Phillips, Felicity Kendal, even Carol Kane - who all hit it out of the park and leave deep impressions of who they were and how they figured into his life. A feat thats certainly impressive when it's happening in somebody else's biopic - usually all of the side characters feel more like cameos than living and breathing figureheads in the person's life.
The movie lacks in its pacing. It gets lost in Natacha Rambova for a little too long, and it lingers too long in the boxing ring. But there's still burning moments of Ken Russell Brilliance(TM) - including the flower veil at the funeral, the sheik moments, the powder puff singers, ballroom dancers around the boxing ring and the hordes of women scenes. A lesser Ken Russell for sure, but that's still high praise in my opinion.
For some those words alone are enough to make a viewer switch off ,but for me even flawed films by Ken still have plenty of interest.
His take on the rise and death of Rudolph Valentino was apparently not a good time for him and he would later disown the film as a studio tampered compromise.
Despite this the film is actually pretty good even if Rudolf Nureyev is not the greatest actor in the world.
The film charts the rise of Valentio form ball room pretty boy to the biggest silent film star in the world .
He leaves a trail of broken hearts behind him and even breaks some noses as he challenges a blowhard journalist to a boxing duel in the latter parts of the film
Of course this being Ken Russell everything is amped up including the acting by some of the cast ,but I guess that is because Russell wants to show pre sound Hollywood in all its horrible splendour.
As I said the film isn't perfect the central casting of Nureyev was a risky gamble which doesn't pay off on the whole but if you can swallow the directors flights of fancy the film isn't half bad.